Ageas SA/NV's second-quarter net result rose to €354.6 million from €193.5 million in the prior-year period.
The Belgian insurance group primarily attributed the increase to the "solid" result of the Asian life operations and a strong operating performance in nonlife, especially in Belgium and continental Europe. The net result further benefited from some exceptional items in the U.K. and Asia.
The life business' net result rose year over year to €262.1 million from €121.4 million, while the non-life business' net result grew to €80.9 million from €54.6 million.
The net result from Belgium jumped to €114.2 million from the year-ago €83.4 million, driven by a "strong" life and nonlife operating performance. Net results from the U.K. and continental Europe amounted to €41.2 million and €25.1 million, respectively, compared to €19.8 million and €26.3 million in the second quarter of 2018.
In Asia, net result climbed to €184.5 million from the year-ago €46.2 million on the back of a solid life operating performance across the region and a high level of capital gains at €20 million, compared to a €44 million negative contribution in the 2018 second quarter due to equity impairments.
The company's combined ratio improved to 93.1% in the quarter from 96.7% a year ago.
For the first half, the group's net result climbed to €606.0 million from €441.2 million a year ago. EPS rose to €3.13 in the period from €2.23 a year ago.
The group's gross premium income was €4.98 billion, up from €4.34 billion in the first half of 2018. Net earned premiums also increased over the period, to €4.67 billion from €4.12 billion.
Net insurance claims and benefits totaled €4.33 billion in the half, compared to €3.83 billion a year earlier.
Ageas' total group Solvency II ratio stood at 200.9% as of June 30, compared to 194.1% as of March 31 and 214.6% as of Dec. 31, 2018.
The company also announced a new €200 million share buyback program that will commence Aug. 19, 2019, and run up to Aug. 5, 2020.
The group completed its 2018-2019 share buyback Aug. 2. It repurchased 4,501,516 shares, corresponding to 2.27% of the total shares outstanding and totaling €200 million.